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Rodriguez v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

November 19, 2014


Page 307


Willard Proctor, Jr., P.A., Willard Proctor, Jr., for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., Brad Newman, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

DAVID M. GLOVER, Judge. VAUGHT and WOOD, JJ., agree.


Page 308


Joel Raymond Rodriguez was tried by a jury and found guilty of the offenses of aggravated assault, first-degree terroristic threatening, and second-degree domestic battering. He was sentenced to 600 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Rodriguez raises five points of appeal: 1) he was prejudiced when the

Page 309

trial court abused its discretion by allowing a witness to read a text message into evidence to refresh her recollection; 2) the trial court erred when it allowed the introduction of an inflammatory text message into evidence; 3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial based on a juror's knowledge that the appellant was in custody; 4) the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss charges; and 5) the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict and new trial. We affirm.


The charges against Rodriguez arose from an encounter between him and his girlfriend, Hannah Logan, on the night of August 8-9, 2012. Hannah testified that on the evening of August 8, 2012, she picked up Rodriguez from his parents' house and that they went several places. She said that after Rodriguez left his friend's house (she stayed in the car), his demeanor changed dramatically; that he was usually happy and kind hearted, but that he became very angry. She testified that she drove to her mother's house because her car was overheating, and she needed to put water in it. She said that she went into the house alone, but that Rodriguez subsequently burst into the house and cursed her; that they shoved each other; that he grabbed her throat; that he was " enraged" ; and that she thought she was going to black out. She said that she threw a glass of water she had in her hand and hit him with the cast on her arm; that he was bleeding from his " mouth area" ; and that he then pushed her face-down on the kitchen floor and collapsed on top of her. She testified that she felt a hard blow on her head; that she thought he hit her with a gun; that he then put the gun in her mouth; and that she did not see him pull the trigger, but she heard " clanging/clicking" on her teeth. She stated that they wrestled around on the floor; that he released her for a second; that she started cursing him, and he held her in a head-lock; that they made their way to her daughter's room; that he said, " Bitch, you don't think I'll kill you" ; and that she thought it was very possible he was going to kill her.

She said the gun was a semi-automatic pistol. She thought the gun was loaded, but Rodriguez didn't make any actions that led her to believe that it was. She said that they had both been drinking a little bit, and they had both taken a Xanax, but that Rodriguez did not appear to be intoxicated and she was not either. She said that this series of events in her mother's house, who was out of town, lasted about fifteen to twenty minutes and took place a little before midnight. Rodriguez left in her car (she gave him her keys); she cleaned herself and the house up; she left and went to her brother's house and then her mom's friend's house; and she called the police about two hours after the incident. She also called Rodriguez because she wanted her car back.

Hannah further testified that she and Rodriguez " texted" each other, prompting a long bench conference concerning Hannah being able to " refresh her memory" concerning a text she testified she received from Rodriguez and other texts that she had sent to him but that had been erased. The trial court allowed her to read the text message to the jury. She also stated that it was the last communication she had with Rodriguez and that she forwarded it to Tony Baugh, a detective who interviewed her the next day.

Hannah explained that Detective Baugh accompanied her in returning to her mother's house (who was still out of town); that she noticed a beer can in the yard, which was unusual; and that normally the front

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door is left unlocked and the back door locked, but it was just the opposite when they returned to the house. She got her car back. It was found a couple of miles from where Rodriguez's cousins and nieces lived. She identified several photo exhibits showing her injuries.

On cross-examination, Hannah repeated that, normally, Rodriguez was a happy, kind-hearted person; that she had known him for two years; and that their relationship was not usually mentally or physically abusive. She stated that she gave Rodriguez the keys to her car and told him to leave; that she had deleted the texts other than the one she read to the jury; and that some of those deleted texts were from her and contained " heinous" language of her own. She corrected some of her statements to the police; stated that she ...

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